Mock Orange Bushes: How To Grow And Care For Mock Orange Shrub

Mock Orange Bushes: How To Grow And Care For Mock Orange Shrub

By: Nikki Tilley, Author of The Bulb-o-licious Garden

For stunning citrus fragrance in the garden, you can’t go wrong with the mock orange shrub (Philadelphus virginalis). This late spring-blooming deciduous bush looks great when placed in the border, used in groups as screening or simply as a stand-alone specimen plant. They even make excellent cut flowers indoors.

Mock Orange Plants

Though it’s not a true orange, its name supposedly derives from the fragrant white flowers which in some varieties are thought to resemble that of orange blossoms. And while the blooming of this lovely shrub is short (only about a week or two), you can still enjoy the dark green foliage of mock orange plants.

Mock orange bushes come in many varieties, ranging in height from 4-8 feet (1-2 m.) or more.

Growing Conditions for Mock Orange Shrubs

Mock orange shrubs are hardy in Zones 4-8. They enjoy areas with full sun to partial shade and moist, well-drained soil. Adding compost to the soil will help improve most issues.

When planting mock orange bushes, dig your planting hole deep enough to accommodate all of the roots. Be sure to spread the roots out and add soil halfway, tamping it down before adding in the remaining soil. Water well after planting.

Care of Mock Orange Bush

Your mock orange shrub will require consistent moisture until it’s established, and though it is somewhat drought tolerant, the bush prefers to be kept in moist conditions. Mulching the area around the shrub will help the soil retain moisture and minimize watering needs.

Mock oranges are not usually heavy feeders, though a water-soluble, all-purpose fertilizer may be used in late winter/early spring as needed if you feel the plant is not growing as well as it should.

Annual pruning will keep the plant looking good and help with maintaining its shape. Since the shrub blooms on the previous year’s growth, pruning needs to be done soon after the blooming period in early summer. Simply prune off the growth just above the outer-facing buds on stems that have finished flowering. Overgrown shrubs can be pruned back by a third, though this may reduce flowering next season.

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Mock Oranges: Plant Care and Collection of Varieties

About mock oranges
The mockorange shrub is most appreciated for its fragrant scent and therefore best used in an area adjacent to a driveway, walkway or patio where the scent can easily be encountered. It has a naturally vase-shaped appearance, but can be pruned annually to encourage a dense form. The pure white blooms of mock orange are fragrant and lasting. Hardiness Zones 4-8.

Special features of mock oranges
Philadelphus x virginalis 'Virginal' has attractive, white, double flowers with an outstanding fragrance in the late spring to early summer season on a 6 to 8 foot tall shrub.

Philadelphus x virginalis 'Dwarf Snowflake' is a compact variety only growing 3-4 feet high with double, pure-white flowers with contrasting dark green leaves.

Philadelphus microphyllus or Littleleaf mockorange is a slower-growing species, growing 3-4 feet tall. The pure white star-shaped flowers bloom in June and are pleasantly fragrant.

Choosing a site to grow mock oranges
Choose a site with full sun for best growth and prolific flowering. This shrub needs plenty of space to grow and spread. Though it is tolerant of a wide range of soils, it performs best in well-drained locations. Use it as a background shrub or as a specimen plant. Just be sure to locate it where you can enjoy the sweet fragrance. Plant in groups, as a hedge row, privacy screen, or as an individual featured shrub in the garden.

Planting Instructions
Plant container-grown nursery plants from spring through fall. Prepare the garden bed by using a garden fork or tiller to loosen the soil to a depth of 12 to 15 inches, then mix in a 2- to 4-inch layer of compost. Dig a hole twice the diameter of the pot the plant is in. Carefully remove the plant from its container and place it in the hole so the top of the root ball is level with the soil surface. Carefully fill in around the root ball and firm the soil gently. Water thoroughly.

Ongoing Care
Mockorange benefits from regular renewal or rejuvenation pruning. The process typically involves removing one-fifth to one-third of the oldest and largest stems at ground level. Cutting the larger stems encourages vigorous growth from the ground, making the shrub full from the bottom up. Selective pruning also improves the shrub's flowering capacity by allowing more light to reach the interior of the plant.


Propagation of orange jasmine can be done with seeds or cuttings. it is typically easiest to propagate with stem-tip cuttings. Select a cutting from a portion of the plant that does not have flowers. Strip all leaves from the cutting, and plant it in warm peat, sand, or another rooting medium. If desired, add a rooting hormone to promote root growth. After the cutting has rooted, transfer it to a container. It should grow quickly once established in its new home.

When grown in containers, orange jasmine should be repotted when it begins to outgrow the container. To transfer an established plant to a larger container, trim off any dead foliage, removing no more than one-eighth of the total growth. Water the roots thoroughly, then carefully dig up the plant and roots and transplant it to the new container. The roots are fragile, so be especially careful not to damage them in the process. It helps to moisten the soil in the old pot so you can pull out the plant and root ball along with the soil to transfer to the new container.


Watch the video: Philadelphus Mock Orange